Learning is a privilege that’s far too often taken for granted. Since the school setting has become such a common fixture in our lives, we forget what we’re there for in the first place: learning. But it’s not just a matter of learning. We’re there to enjoy our experience, connecting with others, and even growing our social circle. But first and foremost, we should be learning.
Not everyone can afford college or university, which really just hammers the fact that we should be making the most out of our experience. Learning as much as you can is the best way to get your money’s worth, but sometimes, you might find yourself struggling with the act of studying.
Here’s how you can alleviate that, and even study faster than you initially thought you could:
Segment and Organize Your Study Schedule
In other words, don’t wait till the last minute to pull an all-nighter! Instead, make sure you have time to study a subject. Segmenting your study schedule means you don’t have to wait until the end of the day for you to study. Allocate chunks of study sessions for you to familiarize yourself with a new topic, then step away from it and come back to it in your next study schedule.
By doing this, you are effectively trying to retrieve what you have learned and every time you do recollect it successfully, the more it sticks.
Writing Also Helps
Whether on a paper notebook or a tablet, there have been studies suggesting that handwriting notes help you remember and understand better. You could be much faster at typing, but writing down notes during a lecture and self-study will compel you to express ideas in your own words, which can therefore help you process those ideas better. The better we understand new concepts, the more we are able to retain them in our memory.
Don’t Compromise Your Sleep
If there’s one thing you should never sacrifice, it’s sleep. Lack of sleep can severely affect our mental acuity, making us think slower and bring more “tip of the tongue” moments when you sorely need information you’ve already read. What’s even more interesting is that short naps can help improve your memory retention.
Even a short 15-minute power nap can help you recall information you’ve read beforehand, especially when compared to those who have had less than eight hours of sleep. So consider this the next time you try to pull an all-nighter just to study.
Reciting Helps With Memory
Often, we vocalize silently when we’re memorizing something. We mouth what we read in our brains in hopes that we’ll remember it better. But the truth is, vocalizing what you’re reading can help you remember it more. When we put in extra effort to read something and then say it, the information we’re processing tends to stay in our long-term memory more. This means we’ll remember it during times we need them, and we’ll most likely even be able to say what we’ve read.
Start reading your notes and textbooks out loud. Try rephrasing it in your own words too. The act of consciously saying the information you’re processing helps you understand it even more.
Play Jeopardy With Yourself… or a Friend!
Here’s an interesting way to study: instead of just reading something over and over, play jeopardy with yourself. Ask yourself questions about the topic and answer or explain it to yourself. Explain it like you would when talking to a friend, or someone younger than you. Better yet, get a friend to ask you questions and have them explain them to you. The act of answering a question with our own words helps us process the information better, and it deepens the comprehension of the subject matter as well.
You might think that exercise simply takes more time away from your studies, but research has shown that it can help with memory retention. Studies noted that consistent intervals of exercise help sharpen your memory and get you to recall the information you’ve read more accurately. Exercising also stimulates brain-derived neurotrophic factors, which then encourage the growth and longevity of our brain cells. Next time you feel like nothing is getting in your brain, try going for a jog or jumping jacks. It just might help.
Not understanding what you’re studying can be a frustrating experience. Fortunately, we have the power to make actionable steps to improve our study habits. Through the tips provided here, we hope that you get to study better and learn more.